Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Last Action Hero(es)


Schwarzenegger and Stallone were the action heroes I grew up with. Those were the times when explosions and guns ruled the roost and bulging biceps and one-liners carried the day. And nobody did it as good as them. Films like Commando and First Blood were films that made them action icons and they built on that image with a bunch of films that saw them single-handedly take on the world. I loved it!

Then came actors like Ford and Willis who were more average Joes who turned into action heroes only because the situation called for it. They didn't have the muscular physiques of Schwarzenegger and Stallone but made up for it with their never-say-die attitudes, laconic wit and sarcastic smirks. Films like Die Hard and Raiders of the Lost Ark heralded a new breed of action heroes who were, in a sense, more believable - they were heroes rather than superheroes.

Actors like Wesley Snipes could be called the action heroes of the next generation but they never became as big as the aforementioned stars. And special effects and computer graphics have taken centerstage today, effectively pushing out the traditional action hero. But as The Bourne Ultimatum and Live Free or Die Hard, the two most enjoyable action flicks this year showed us, watching chases and explosions and fights created the tradional way is just more fun than watching them being created on a computer.

Which is precisely why I'm looking forward to Rambo and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this year. Schwarzenegger is busy playing politics and Willis has moved onto more serious roles and it is doubtful if Stallone and Ford will be able to play these characters again. So these 2 films might well be marking the end of an era...

14 Comments:

At 12:53 AM, Blogger KayKay said...

Same here BB, I grew up with these iconic macho men and it's faintly nostalgic to see them returning to their career defining roles, although with none of them having a bonafide hit in the last decade, this seems a last ditch attempt to jump start their careers.

So far, the attempts have been fairly successful. Rocky Balboa was a fitting swan song to the boxer's saga, and Die Hard 4 was one of the most deliriously enjoyable action flicks of the year.

Have relatively high hopes for Indy 4, if for nothing else, the fact that Steven Spielberg is back at the helm and Rambo 4 should be interesting , with Stallone doubling (or tripling) as star, director and producer.

 
At 4:42 AM, Anonymous Nish, the Ink Blot. said...

Balaji... Ford was around before Arnold, wasnt he?

 
At 8:09 AM, Anonymous indira said...

am a fan of wesley snipes and was glad to see his name mentioned uniquely. His villain act in the 'demolition man' was so menacing for me. it was not just a 'bad man' act but the really talented eccentric man who mocks the system / who's tipped the line and fallen into bad ways was so iconically portrayed i thought. as for Indiana Jones., i just dont think there are actors like Ford anymore - cant imagine who could fill his shoes amongst the current crop.

 
At 8:32 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

"it is doubtful if Stallone and Ford will be able to play these characters again. "

Actually I am surprised that they are still playing it :-) what are these guys now, 60,65? Rambo is so 80s, it was even parodied in several other films like Hot Shots.

 
At 8:44 AM, Anonymous APALA said...

Hi Balaji:

Me too enjoyed the films by these macho-men while growing up!

You are so right, as I have already wrote in your blog, the most enjoyable films of this year was "BOURNE ULTIMATUM" and the next best was "LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD"! I think CG is good for films like Jurasic Park, Harry Potter or Lard of the Rings or for Ice Age! But not for real the "ACTION" movies!(cratoon action movies can use them - but should know not to go overboard like Spidey 3 etc., did!) Even if they are used in Action movies - it should be un-noticebale! That's what makes a good CG!

Wesley Snipes was OK in couple of more films like - Murder @ 1600, U.S.Marshals - but some of his other films were really bad!

I thought you would mention Tom Cruise - MI-I, II & III!

Rambo-4 might surprise everybody!!
Indy-4 (hope they don't screw it like Indy-2) is exciting more because of Spielberg than because of Ford - for me, at least!

(I am Legend (Will Smith) - looks good! Hope the film is as good as the previews!!)

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

kaykay, "...last ditch attempt to jump start their careers" - i'd say it was more an attempt to go out on a high :) even if both these films become big BO hits, i don't see many more similar roles coming their way. so they're probably trying to end their career with the roles that defined them :)

nish, yes he was. but this was more a post on them as action heroes and when i was growing up, 'raiders of the lost ark' was the film where i saw ford as an action hero(i was too young when 'star wars' came :)

indira, true can't imagine anyone else in that role. shia le bouf(from 'transformers') is teamed with ford in indy 4. wonder if they're laying the foundation for a future spin-off :)

vijay, me too. i think they're both in their 60s :)

apala, yeah good pt. about CGI in action movies. we shouldn't notice CGI's been used and that what makes the action more fun :)

inspite of those MI movies, 'action hero' is not what comes to mind when i think of cruise. so didn't think of adding him to the list :)

yeah, 'i am legend' trailer looks awesome :)

 
At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Senthil said...

John Rambo (Rambo IV) trailer - http://www.firstshowing.net/2007/05/19/john-rambo-iv-feature-trailer . Looks bloody violent.

 
At 9:32 PM, Anonymous ram said...

i've moved further and further away from action movies in the past few years...i strongly prefer character studies and well-scripted dramas. but occasionally when i watch an action movie like "die hard" (i love the first movie of the series) i do find myself quite entertained...but maybe coz of my interest in writing realistic stories, i also look fwd to dramas, rather than action, in the movies to learn more abt complexities of characterizations...
btw, bb and co., you have to watch "American Gangster." I loved the movie! Washington and Crowe were great, esp. the former...

 
At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Prin said...

Staying with English films, a question out of the blue:

How popular are James Bond films in the US? Reply please :)

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger Babu said...

Prin,

Put it this way not very...there is probably 21 films and not one in US All time Box Office, didn't know ThunderBall made the most

 
At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

baby, i actually think that james bond films are somewhat popular in the us...seeing that many of the "better" bond films were made back in the day, where ticket prices were much lower than today, so box office intakes are much lower. if you notice the overwhelming majority of those in the all time us box office have been made in the last 4 years or so...but the newest bond film, casino royale, is in the top 100..so if the quality of the film continues to increase bond movies may be able to climb even higher...i thinkits also such an adult film withthe violence and sexuality that many family audiences dont see it...versus movies like shrek...just because some movies arent in the top 20 fils are so doesnt mean they arent popular...many of the indiana jones films arent even close...does that mean indiana jones isnt popular?...its all due to the increasing ticket prices...
Bharath

 
At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in fact..if you look at the inflation adjusted earnings of the bond films...8 out of 21 have made over 600 million..600 million is the top earner titanic... and thunderball itself blew thunderball as itmade 886 million..however im not sure if these are us box office earnings...or world-wide earnings....
Bharath

 
At 9:02 PM, Anonymous telugu gal said...

sir,

i dun tink e films wil do well. Basic Instinct 2 didnt.

Btw, do u noe telugu? Do u watch ur telugu films wit subtitles?

 
At 11:58 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, heard some good things about 'american gangster'. but gotta wait for the dvd :)

telugu gal, no i don't know telugu. i've watched very few telugu movies(i think 4 or 5). yeah i watched them with subtitles :)

 

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